Monday, November 17, 2008

Are the Rangers Anti-Czech. . . ?

The whole Prucha to Ottawa speculation that Larry Brooks posed in today's Post gave me ammunition to write what I started thinking about on Friday.

On Friday, I was re-reading some quotes that Larry Brooks wrote from Rangers training camp (9/28):

"Because after five games in the past six days and six games in eight days beginning last Saturday - two goals in each one of them - the Rangers are nowhere. No line has developed chemistry. No defense pairing has looked good. And none of the players still competing for spots on the third or fourth lines deserves a uniform more than Petr Nedved, who was dismissed from the squad on Friday.
It turns out Nedved wasn't competing against Blair Betts or Laurie Korpikoski - or anyone else - as much as he was competing against Renney's loyalty to Betts and resistance to the concept of No. 93 wearing the Blueshirt. A shame. "

And I thought about the mass exodus of Czechs to and from the Rangers team since 2005 - Jagr, Straka, Sykora, Rucinsky, Malik. And the two remaining, Roszival and Prucha.

And I said to myself, hmm. And I thought about the other Petr, as in Prucha, and said, maybe, maybe, for the first time, I'm seeing sarcasm, when Renney refers to him as a good "soldier." Maybe he just sees a body. A blind follower. I have never, ever, in my hearing him say that before, thought he meant that. But now, perhaps, I do.

Think about it, maybe it's not what he is doing. It's what he's not doing. I'm sure the kid isn't happy, but with the exception of storming off in Prague when he thought he wasn't going to be playing (which again would have been a humiliating and unacceptable thing for the team to do to him), he's kept a smile. I'm sure he's been a good teammate. I haven't heard anything differently. But perhaps if he were more vocal, more North American, perhaps? Maybe that would make a difference?

I'm not truly suggesting Tom Renney has a thing against Czechs. I'm not. But maybe someone in the Rangers organization does. The Rangers had a multitude of men from that country, all relatively soft-spoken and prideful men. And that was not that long ago. They are now down to two. One who plays. One who doesn't.

The Rangers on Saturday had: 8 Canadians, 6 Americans, 3 Swedes, 2 Czechs, 1 Russian, 1 Fin, and 1 Ukranian on their active roster.

For the 2005-2006 season, the Rangers had 7 Czechs (Jags, Straks, Rucinsky, Prucha, Sykora, Rozsival, Malik), 2 Swedes (Nylander and Lundqvist), 7 Canadians (Rucchin, J. Ward, Dom Moore, Blair Betts, Jason Strudwick, Colton Orr, Kevin Weekes), 3 Americans (Ryan Hollweg, Jed Ortmeyer, Tom Poti), 2 Latvians (Darius Kasparaitus, Sandis Ozolinsh), 2 Russians (Fedor Tyutin, Max Kondratiev), and 1 Slovak (Marcel Hossa) who had the bulk of the time (I counted anyone playing 15 games or more).

And out of their top five scorers that year, 4 were from Czech Republic. (Jagr, Straka, Rucinsky, Prucha; Nylander was the lone Swede). Expand to 8, you can add two more Czechs, Rozsival and Petr Sykora. Rucchin was 6th in scoring for the team.

In 2005-2006, Czechs Petr Prucha and Petr Sykora were shootout weapons. (And yes, one memorable goal for Marek Malik too).
In 2006-2007, it was a surprise Slovak Marcel Hossa.
In 2007-2008, it was Canadians Nigel Dawes and Brendan Shanahan.
In 2008-2009, thus far, it has been Swede Fredrik Sjostrom.

Granted, the team today has recieved a major facelift from 2005-2006, and some of it was very necessary. And honestly, some of those players are not in the league anymore. The 2008-2009 team has had a better start than expected, but they are undoubtably quite more a North American heavy team than they were just three years ago.

I'm not saying I don't hope for the best for whatever team the Rangers brass puts on the ice. But, honestly, that 2005-2006 team did something marvelous. Something amazing. And if not for an ill-timed Olympic break, I still feel that team had Stanley Cup Final written all over it.

In Czech of course.

Honestly, just something to think about. Cause quite frankly, I now know I am.

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